tv Meet the Press NBC December 21, 2015 2:00am-3:00am CST
and curious neighbors, gathered on the street below marc's house. among them, in an awful state, was marc's sister jacque. >> you know, everything was wrapped in tape. and police officers, "you can't cross here. you can't do this, you can't do that." i don't know. i just wanted to hold his hand or something. >> reporter: detective vic brooks was on the other side of that police tape. >> when i first walked in, i noticed that were some papers that appeared to be knocked on the ground. and there was some broken glass and stuff like that on the floor. >> reporter: investigators snapped photos of the chaos. drawers pulled out in a bedroom. clothes thrown into the bathtub. a jewelry case toppled over. like somebody was looking for something? >> possibly. >> reporter: they asked around the neighborhood, did anyone see any strangers that afternoon? and yes, someone did, investigators told prosecutor, scott ellington. >> an african american was seen in the neighborhood wearing a
that. later somebody said they saw an aging and beat up blue mercedes circling the neighborhood. so, , ieves casing the house? maybe. and yet, as detective brooks looked around the house, he could see this just didn't have the hallmarks of a robbery. the valuable stuff -- tv sets, guns, computers -- were untouched. and look at this photo. sittininnext to marc's keys and a cell phone on the kitchen island, is a container of ice cream. >> it appeared that he had just walked in and set these items down, and then was caught totally off guard. >> reporter: all of that seemed to shriek of a planned ambush dressed up a little to look like robbery. the way investigators pieced it together, somebody was w wting for marc to get home, then crept up from behind, shot him twice. >> he had suffered two gunshot wounds, one that appeared to have entered on his left side,
had sustained to his face. >> reporter: that was a kind of -- what is a kill shot or something? >> yes, , r. >> reporter: somebody making sure. >> it appeared so, yes. >> reporter: why would someone want to kill marc despain? >> i was so confused. i just -- i didn't think marc had any enemies. and i didn't know why anybody would want to kill him. >> repepter: detective brooks soon discovered a possible reason. even though they'd been living lavishly, marc had serious money trouble. have to come and get money from me. >> reporter: it was a couple of months before the murder, said michelle's mother kathy. marc asked her for cash to help pay for michelle's birthday >> you know, that's very unusual. because usually they just go out and buy whatever they want. >> reporter: not anymore. that summer, 2011, jonesboro real estate was far from recovered. many of marc's rental properties were underwater.
tenants were being forced out of their homes. so -- >> you know, was anybody upset with marc? was this any of his tenants? could this have been somebody like that? >> reporter: and then, an ugly little surprise crawled out of marc's own troubled family. marc and his parents were lobbing lawsuits at each other over some shared property. the prosecutor heard that marc's dad, jack, was a hothead. >> jack was very, very angry at marc for mishandling this property that they co-owned together. >> reporter: yes. but it went deeper than that, went to a very dark place, as you will see. and bebeuse of it, marc hadndn spoken to his parents in years. so when jack showed up at the crime scene, the suspicion was, well, audible. michelle's dad, carl, started yelling at him. >> cursing very loudly. calling him all kinds of names. >> reporter: but what was he saying?
jack despain. >> reporter: did you think jack was somehow responsible? >> oh, yeah. marc had told multiple people, "if anything ever happens to me, y'all look at my dad." >> reporter: so, of course, detective brooks invited jack down to the police station. just maybe this mymyery would have a quick, if very disturbing, solution. coming up -- a young girl makes a troubling accusation that defines a family -- could this have possibly happened? >ut was that the motive for mumuer?
when "dateline" continues. >> reporter: it's an unpleasant thing to think about. parents murdering their own children. but it happens. is an old story, frankly. some awful glitch, perhaps, in the human recipe. had it happened here, in jonesboro? suspicion fell quickly on marc's dad, jack despain. michelle's mom heard about it when she called to tell a relative that marc was dead. >> somebody's murdered marc. and he was like, "oh my god."
despain?" >> reporter: he thought right away it was jack. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: because anyone close to jack and his family knew, a poison far more potent than money had come between father and son. >> i never saw it coming. i don't think marc ever saw it coming. >> reporter: it began, said michelle, when her 13-year-old daughter told them an ugly story, that her grandpa jack asked her to take nude photos of herself on his phone. marc called a family meeting. >> marc told his dad, there's a problem. we want to help you. you know, we're not here to you. >> reporter: jack swore he did nothing wrong. marc called in the police. tana, jack's wife of more than 30 years, left him. moved in with marc and michelle. well, how do you prepare for a thing like that? >> y y don't. you don't prepepe -- >> reporter:r:ell, what is that
>> you just -- your mind is -- is in overdrive, you know, trying to think, you know, "oh my god, could this have possibly happened?" >> reporter: but after the police interviewed the girl, and then jack, and then the girl again, and heard her story change, becomemeore elaborate, the investigatiowas dropped. and tana, driven with guilt for ever suspecting jack abused his granddaughter, went back to him and begged forgiveness. >> the man i've been married to for over 30 years and went to high school with, and then doubting him, and knowing i shouldn't have. >> reporter: but marc and michelle, believing the girl, never spoke to his mom or dad again. cut them off from their grandkids. disowned marc's sister when she took jack's side. >> i believe dad 100%. i don't believe he had anything to do with it. >> reporter: so that was the ugly backdrop to the murder investigation. and detective brooks would have to figure out if this years-old
pushed him over the edge. time to meet potential suspect number one. >> i'm going to clososthat door, mr. despain. >> reporter: detective brooks sat down with jack in an interrogation room and watched the man fall apart. >> i can't. >> reporter: was this true grief the detective was witnessing? or regret? or guilt over something jack had done? or hadn't done. >> i was too late. >> reporter: too late. what did he mean? jack didn't shy away from discussing those abuse allegations. here's how it happened, he said. >> she had taken some nude photos of herself and sent them to her boyfriends. >> reporter: jack said he found out the girl was sexting, cocoronted her, said he was going to telelher parents. but she got to them before he
story to get out of trouble. >> so they took her side, i guess. they took her side and said i was the bad person. >> reporter: jack told us the same story, eager, he said, to finally set the record straight. you didn't ever ask her to take pictures of herself and give them to you? >> no, no. >> reporter: but the accusation, said jack, almost destroyed him. >> i was at home. i could have opened up my own whiskey store, i think, with how much whiskey i drunk for two months. and typically i don't drink. but that was just to kill the pain. >> reporter: because everybody assumed that you were abusing your own granddaughter. >> yes, yes, yes. >> reporter: the detective wondered, did jack's pain drive him to seek revenge on his own son? no, said jack, no. he wanted to reconcile with
son in four, five years but i loved him dearly. >> reporter: anyway, when marc was murdered, said jack, he was miles away at his own house. >> i was on the roof trying to put some shingles on. >> reporter: that alibi would have to be checked out, of course. but even before detective brooks had a chance to do that, other members of the family came down to the police station and told him, don't be fooled by jack's tears. he was an angry, possibly violent man. >> he said, "i will ruin you and your family." he said, "for you all l cusing me of this." he said, "i will see you ruined." >> reporter: this is michelle's dad, carl. the man who'd been cursing jack out on the street right there at the murder scene. >> if i was going to point a finger at anybody, if that's what you're asking, i'd point it at jack despain. >> reporter: detective brooks could plainly see this was a family with a troubling history. so h hmade a decision to attend
would tell him. i saw a note where you, in your case file, you wrote, "this has to be one of the strangest visitations i have ever attended?" >> yes. it was just a cold feeling. it just did not feel right. >> reporter: was the killer sitting among the mourners, planning a next move? coming up -- a family feud at the funeral. >> she calls the police on us. >> and somebody else calls the police with a tip that could crack the case. >> reporter: that's a nice little gift. >> it was. this is the time e the time for harmony let love be the song that everybody sings fill the air with joyful noise ring the bells and raise your voice let there be peace on earth
music starts and plays throughout gucci guilty the fragrances for him and for her. let's get these dayquil liquid gels and go. but these liquid gels are new. mucinex fast max. it's the same difference. this one is max strength and fights mucus. mucinex fast max. the only cold and flu liquid gel that's max-strength and fights mucus. leles end this. i absolutely love my new york apartment, but the rent is outrageous. good thing geico offers affordable renters insurance. with great coverage it protects my personal belongings should they get damaged, stolen or destroyed. [doorbell] uh, excuse me. delivery. hey. lo mein, szechwan chicken, chopsticks, soy sauce and you got some fortune cookies. have a good one. ah, these small new york apartments... protect your belongings.
with renters insurance. (politely) wait, wait, wait! you can't put it in like that, you have to rinse it first. that's baked-on alfredo. baked-on? it's never gonna work. dish issues? trust your d dhwasher with cascade platinum. it powers... through... your toughest stuck-on food. better than finish. cascade. choose to move freely. move free ultra has triple-action support for your joints, cartilage and bones in one tiny pill. move free ultra. get your move on. and now try move free night. the first and only 2-in-1 joint and sleep lement. (politely) wait, wait, wai you can't put it in like that, you have to rinse it first. what's that, alfredo? no,that can go in. no it can't! what are you, nuts? that's baked-on alfredo. baked-on? it's never gonna work. dish issues? trust your dishwasher with cascade platinum. it powers... through... your toughest stuck-on food. better than finish. (tthe hostess) see, told you it would work... (turns to girl 2) you guys heard me say that, right?
here again is keith morrison. >> reporter: michelle and marc, just children really when they got married. now marc was dead. gunned down in the family kitchen. and michelle had to plan his funeral. she was barely functioning, she said. >> i couldn't even tell you who was at the -- you know, who was there. it was just a blur. it all still just feels like a blur. >> reporter: but there was one thing she was clear about. mama's parents and sister were not welcome e his funeral. what was the funal like for you? >> oh, it was awful. we couldn't sit down on the main level with family. >> reporter: why? >> michelle wouldn't let us. she barred us. >> reporter: it was the same at the cemetery. >> she's literally trying to get him m the ground before we can even walk up. >> reporter: you mean get them to fill in the grave? >> yes.
to the graveside. and she calls the police on us. she calls the police at my other's funeral. >> reporter: yet, for all the chatter about jack, that he might have killed his own son, detective brook's instincts said no. jack's alibi checked out. he was fixing his roof afternoon and those tears in the interrogation room -- >> i did not feel anything as being fake from mr. despain. he appeared to be a broken man at that time. >> reporter: so what to make of the fractured family and all the bad blood now tangled up with so much grief? detective brooks thought back to his interview with miclle's dad, carl, the man who pointed a finger at jack on day one. >> he told him he didn't want to have nothing to do with him. >> reporter: carl said he'd been in marc's house not too long
some rent money. >> why didn't they shoot me instead of him? i i d the money in my hand. >> reporter: interesesng timing? coincidence? or, as detective brooks wondered, did carl have something to do with the murder? maybe not. carl's alibi checked out. surveillance cameras, in fact, caught carl right where he said he was around the time marc was gunned down, meeting his daughter at the bank whererehe worked. he could not have shot marc. continued, marc's parents spent time at the cemetery, finally able to do what they couldn't when their son was still alive. >> we'd talk to him. >> and rainy days were the worst. >> reportete what do you mean rainy days?? >> i didn't like him getting wet. i knew he was in heaven. but i just didn't like the rain on him.
pure luck, really. remember how neighbors reported seeing an african american stranger in the neighborhood? now, someone called the cops with a tip. somebody who matched that description was actually boasting about shooting marc despain. that was a nice, little gift? >> it was. >> reporter: didn't take them long to find the guy. street name, qualow. real name, terrance barker. and he was nervous. >> i can s s your heart beating g through that shirt right now. i know you're scared. >> reporter: he denied everything. you, man. i didn't do this. >> reporter: detective brooks wasn't buying it. because by then, the police also tracked down the driver of that beat up blue mercedes seen near the house before the murder. and he told the cops he took qualow to meet a man in a church parking lot. and that man wanted a job done. was that job murder?
i did not do that, sir. >> reporter: by now detective brooks had been working night and day for a week. his store of patience ran out. >> this is serious [ bleep ] to me. i've got three kids that are laying over there crying. >> reporter: was it that angry speech or another long night in his cell? the next day, qualow, came clean. for a promise of 7 to $10 thousand, still unpaid, he said, he took the job to shoot and kill marc despain. >> you fired the first round and that round hits him where? >> it hits in the chest area. >> reporter: he didn't know marc from adam, he said. it was the man from the parking lot who took him to marc's house, told him where to lie in wait for marc, gave him a gun. and then qualow said something rather surprising. >> i've been thinking, like, man, what the -- what -- what -- what in the hell kind of people do [ bleep ] like that? >> reporter: the shooter who
was appalled. not at himself, at the man who hired him. >> people are something else, man. you know, it's -- especially people that you think care about you and love you. they're supposed to be -- these are the same [ bleep ] that be in your face plotting on you. >> reporter: if the hitman was telling the truth, detective brooks' hunch had been right. someone who claimed to love marc, also plotted his death. but who? coming up -- michelle confesses to an affair. >> my dad didn't know that. marc didn't -- i mean, nobody knew that. and there was another surprise. >> there were two insurance policies, each for the amount of $500,000. >hen "dateline" continues. phil! oh no... (under his breath) hey man! hey peter. (unenthusiastic) oh... ha ha ha! joanne?
it's me... you don't look a day over 70. am i right? jingle jingle. if you're peter pan, you stay young forever. it's what you do. if you want totoave fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. you make me feel so young... it's what you do. you make me feel so spring has sprung. i know blowdrying fries my hair, but i'm never gonna stop. because now i've got pantene shampoo and conditioner the pro-v formula locks moisture inside my hair and the damage from 100 blowowries is gone.
97%? helped by geico's fast and friendly claims service. huh... oh yeah, baby. geico's as fast and friendly as it gets. woo! geico. expect great savings and a a ole lot more. >> reporter: it's shocking what some people will do for the mere promise of a aew thousands dollars. like lie in wait for marc despain, then put a bullet in his head. but revealing his paymaster? that the hit man did for free. and the name? >> somebody called me and said, "have you heard? carl's just got arrested." i'm like, "oh, my god, he did this."
ex-husband, michelle's dad. but marc gave him a house and a job and took him on family vacations. and once again, said michelle, she was stunned. >> i thought that he cared for marc, you know. the father of my kids. >> reporter: but michelle's mom, kathy, was not so surprised. she knew what carl was capable of. she divorced him years earlier, she said, to escape his explosions of temper. >> he never would hit me because he didn't want to leave a mark. >> reporter: what would he do? >> he would hold a gun to my head. >> reporter: hold a gun to your head? >> yes. >> reporter:r:hreaten you? >> yes. >> reporter: still, what would make him mad enough to have marc killed? confronted, carl's face turned to stone. >> i'm not going to say anything without a lawyer, vic. >> reporter: but, as investigators discovered, carl had been talking to other people, told them marc had been
that he was tired of it. did you inzestigate whether or not any abuse actually occurred in that marriage? >> there was not any abuse ever found to have been -- to have happened. >> reporter: so if the abuse story was an obvious lie, why did carl do it? marc's parents were certain he didn't come up with the idea on his own. the real mastermind, they believed, was someone else very close to marc, his wife michelle. >> i cannot see carl taking my son's life without michelle being involved. >> reporter: michelle was far from a loving, doting wife, they said. the womamathey knew was pure self-interest, would do anything to get what she wanted. exhibit a -- so what was it that just turned marc against you? >> michelle's manipulation. >> reporter: it was michelle who pushed marc to break away from the family business, they said.
apart by stoking her own daughter's allegations of abuse, to drive a permanent wedge between marc and his dad, and get marc and his money all to herself. they could easily see her goading her father into planning a murder. >> michelle is a sociopath. she is absolutely -- cares nothing about anyone or anything but michelle. >> reporter: quite an allegation, if true. and, as it happened, detective brooks was pretty sure he saw an effort by the grieving widow to manipulate him. he'd interviewed her, of course, right after the murder. >> i nudged his leg, and i screamed his name again, and he didn't move at all. >> reporter: all that emotion in her voice, it seemed like an act to him. >> there was no tears. no tears. >> reporter: but her voice of desperation captured on the 911 call, surely that was real?
>> reporter: maybe not. they saw her standing calmly in the middle of the lawn. >> they see a woman standing out there talking on her phone. didn't appear to be in a grievous situation for sure. >> reporter: wasn't like she was calling around the neighborhood for help? >> no. >> reporter: and marc's sister michelle seemed at the crime scene. most is how clean shwas. like her hair was still perfect, her nails were still perfect. >> reporter: what would you have expected? >> oh well, as brutal as it sounds, some blood underneath her fingernails or something. >> reporter: like she got down there and tried to revive him? >> something. >> reporter: so detective brooks michelle's story, how she invited marc, who was working from home, to have lunch with her downtown, and then after lunch they went across the street to buy ice cream for dessert. see them here? marc had literally minutes to
phone records showed that in the hours leading up to marc's death, there were calls and a flurry of text messages between michelle and her dad. >> what the investigator found was that there was an enormous amount of texts missing. there were chunks of texts missing from carl's phone and from michelle's phone. >> reporter: anything interesting or suspicious about the fact they were missing from both phones? >> immediately it was suspicious. >> reporter: on the day her dad was arrested, detective brooks invited michelle back to the police station and asked her, point blank. >> did you have anything to do with the murder of your husband? >> no, sir. no, sir. >> reporter: but she admitted she was hiding something. >> anything at all that you need to get off your chest, michelle? >> just that i was seeing a guy that -- my dad didn't know that. marc didn't. i mean nobody knew that. nobody knew that. >> reporter: seeing a guy? an affair? it all tumbled out.
family finances to pay for her lover's apartment, f f his groceries. >> you have to understand, i'm very ashamed of this. >> reporter: so maybe marc was on to her, was about to find out what michelle was doing behind his back. marc's parents believed the michelle they knew would rather see her husband dead than risk being on the losing end of a messy divorce. so i iwas all going to fal apart? >> yeah. >> from trailer trash to a rich woman, so she thought in her mind. she was fixing to going back to being trailer trash again, and she just couldn't stand the thought. >> reporter: but if marc died -- >> we found that there were two insurance policies, each for the amount of $500,000. >> reporter: that's a healthy chunk of change? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: a whole noxious stew of suspicion by now, but none of it actual proof. months went by.
ininstigators to keep going. they even posted a billboardrd asking the public for help. the idea that michelle might get away with murder was eating jack alive. you've got a whole lot of anger in there for that woman, haven't you? >> if i could take her life, and bring my son back, i'd do it. i'd dodot in a heartbeat. >> reporter: sometimes it's overwhelming, that aer, isn't it? >> it is. it is. coming up -- one more twist. >> i never dreamed he would do that to me. >> and justice for mark? maybe. >> i wanted answers for the children.to find. we'll show you some perfect stocking-sized gadgets. and living with a terminal illness is not easy. but we'll show you how one man
and they fumed. >> she's buying stuff, and buying clothes, and going to restaurants. and it's very hard for us to take. >> reporter: detective brooks was determined to see the case through. just like marc's parents, he believed michelle had orchestrated the murder down to the very minute. the shooter himself said as much. carl was texting with someone, he said, as they made their final plans in the church parking lot. >> who'd he tell you he was texting? >> the dude's wife. play by play. >> play by play. >> reporter: but virtually all those texts had been deleted. detective brooks labored for months, nights, weekends. kind of got emotionally wrapped up in this one, huh? >> i kept thinking of the children. i wanted answers for the children. >> reporter: and then, a breakthrough. finally nine months after the murder, a police analyst mananed to recover several deleted text
time stamped 8:20 a.m., five hours before the murder. michelle writes to her dad, "has to be today. can't live like this. awful this morning." her dad's response? he asks if she can get him away for lunch, right? yes. >> reporter: she says she can? >> she says she can. and he replies, "okay, i will let you know time." >> my review of some of the text messages is that marc really wasn't interested in going to eat lunch that day, but she begged him to take her to lunch. >> reporter: after lunch, remember, she asked to linger for an ice cream treat. all the e ile texting her dad,d, said the prosecutor, tipping him off to marc's whereabouts as carl placed a killer in their home. >> it just kind of sent chills up my back. what kind of person have you got to be to let your husband walk away from you, knowing what he's going to walk into when he gets home?
new evidence, police arrested michelle. she was charged with capital murder, for planning and orchestrating the crime. she denied it, said she could explain everything, and agreed to tell us. why should people believe that you had nothing to do with the plot to kill marc? >> because i didn't. he was such a good dad. such a good dad. anybody that knows me knows that my kids are so important to me, the most important thing, and i would never want them to not have their dad. >> reporter: but she did want out of t t marriage, she said.d. so, those back and forth texts with her dad that day did involve a plot, just not murder. what did you think he was helping you do? >> leave. >> reporter: how was he going to help you leave? >> by getting things while we
>> reporter: so she'd keep marc at lunch while carl and two hired handndmoved her stuff out t of the houou. but her dad changed the plan on her, she said, used those men to kill her husband. she swore to us she had no idea when she met her dad at the bank that day what he'd just done. you're this close to each other, father and daughter, and you're looking in his eyes and talking to him. he gives no hint that he just killed your husband? >> not at all. >> reporter: and then michelle -- what's the expression? -- threw her father under the bus. carl killed marc, she said, not because he thought marc was abusing her, but for money, for a piece of the insurance payout. but you were going to get the insurance? >> right. >> reporter: so even if it was his idea, it makes you look pretty guilty. >> right. one thing that he always told me and my sister, growing up was,
get out of them, you know. >> reporter: that was what he told you -- >> uh-huh. and i never dreamed he would do it to me, use me. >> reporter: did he? or was michelle the clever user? in our interview, michelle denied being a master manipulator. she denied that she stoked those sex abuse allegations or that she engineered marc's split with his parents. for that, she blamed jack and tata. >> i never would've walked away from my kids in the first place. i never would've -- >> reporter: in the end, they didn't walk away from their kid either. because who was pushing, from day one, to solve the murder? who kept pushing, month after month after month? >> my opinion on that is their hatred toward me.
marc. it didn't have anything to do with marc. it was all about jack despain's hatred toward me. >> reporter: you seriously believe that? >> i do. >> reporter: michelle, out on bail, waited for trial. her mother, kathy defended herer around town. did you ever let yourself think >> the daughter i know? the daughter i helped raise? no. >> reporter: meantime, michelle's attorneys, ray nickle and bill stanley, took a closer look at those recovered text messages. they filed a motion arguing that investigators didn't obtain them properly. >> they didn't get a new search warrant every time they searched the phone. we're talking about, i think 15 searches. >> yeah. >> of michelle and carl's phones. and they didn't have 15 search warrants. >> reporter: their arguments about improper search warrants may have had some traction. with the trial looming, the prosecutor was worried.
poker game where it's all or nothing when that judge rules the next day on whether to admit the evidence or not to admit it. >> reporter: the prosecutor agreed to start talking about a plea deal. the defense played it tough, said michelle was only willing to admit she learned about her father's plot t ter the murder. >> she is admitting to having knowledge of someone being involved and not disclosing that to the police. >> reporter: she would agree to plead guilty to a charge of hindering apprehension said the defense. after some prayer, marc's mother said she could live with that. >> i'm not a gamblininperson. and you know, it would only -- even if we'd a went to trial, it would've only taken one sympathetic juror to have set her free. >> reporter: in september, more
three years after the death of her husband whenn michelle despain walked into a courthouse. michelle sentence to 30 years could be out on parole after serving as few as five. until then her mom will raise the kids. jack and tana hope one day those kids will want to know them, thth they will want to hear about their dad and their love for him that came before all this hate. some of marc's friends told us that you were his hero, jack. >> yeah. >> reporter: you knew that. >> i loved him. >> reporter: i'm s sry, jack. jack and tana set up a charity to help other victims of violent crime. it's called marc's place. >> we're going to try to move forward with something positive
proud of. >> reporter: and on a fall sunset, they gathered family and friends together to remember their son and finally say goodbye. >> i tell people all the time, it's hug the ones you love. let them know, because you never know. the next moment they may be gone. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. this sunday morning, donald trump dominating the national polls now more than ever. >> something is going on and it's beautiful to see. >> but no one has ever won without paying more attention to early states like iowa. trump is rewritingng the rules.. can he rewrite history? donald trump joins me live. plus, last night's democratic debate.
into regime change and little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be. >> did bernie sanders pass the commander in chief test? he joins me this morning. and speaker of the house paul ryan s ss he and president obama don't agree on much. >> we're going to have one heck of a contrast in 2016. >> so why is ryan confident that he and the president can get things done? my exclusive end-of-the-year sit down with the speak ere. joining me for insight and analysis are nbc and telemoan doe jose diaz blart. doris kearns goodwin. maggie havreman of the "new york times" and radio talk show host hugh hewitt. welcome to sunday, it's "meet the press." good sunday morning. tip o'neill famously said all politics is local.
he's betting all politics is national. this week, trump dominated the national poll, again, and as never before. topping the second-place finisher. no matter what poll you use, ted cruz, in each case, by more than 20 points. tradition would tell you national polls are meaningless. just ask president's giuliani and herman cain. but donald trump and marco rubio are throwing out the old book that says you have to win iowa or new hampshire before building a national camp pain. trump, who will join me in just a moment, wants to rewrite the rule book. the question is, can he rewrite history? >> the only one i'm not leading in is the stupid "des moines register." >> donald trump is are drawing thousands to rallies with a whistle-stop strategy. parking miz boeing 575 within view of the stage. he's ignoring the face-to-face retail politics that have been the political play book for decades. he's held just 32 public events in iowa.
has held 75. in new hampshire, trump has made 22 stops compared to jeb bush's 66 and chris christie's 111. those candidates dismiss the fact that they're lagging nationally. >> this time eight years ago hillary clinton was 25 points ahead of barack obama. i don't remember people saying "obama, you have to get out of the race." >> true, but we've never seen someone like trump. he's saturating social media. >> i'm the ernest hemingway of 140 characters. ws. onfox news, a traditional home for republican primary voters, trump has gotten nearly eight times as many mentions as cruz over the past month. marco rubio is following a similar strategy. in iowa, he's chosen to invest in television ads over staffers in field offices and he's been criticized for a light campaign schedule. just 48 stop this is year. >> you haven't been in iowa nearly as m mh -- >> i read that. that's not true. >> meanwhile, ted cruz is
campaign play book, rolling out iowa endorsements and opening a dormity in des moines nicknamed camp cruz for volunteers from out of state. >> let's go cruz crew, we've got three minutes. >> reporter: cruz and rubio are in an all out brawl, competing be the leading alternative to trump. >> marco's campaign is lying. >> he's not told the truth about the his position in the past. >> reporter: rubio's sponsorship of the senate 2014 immigration reform bill was met with hostility by many conservatives but rubio insists cruz won't admit he backed the reform, too. >> he supported an amendment in the u.s. senate when we werere debating the immigration bill where he flat out bragged about theact he wn't undoing the legalization. >> rubio is trying to expose cruz as just another slippery washington politician. but cruz is having none of that, attacking rubio on the arab zbhsh the republican establishment's gang of eight plan. >> in 2013, cruz said this -- >> what would you do with the 11
>> i think there probably could be a compromise on that. >> a compromise? >> if a path to citizenship was taken off the table. >> but now cruise is ruling out legal status for undocumented immigrants, now or in the future. >> i have never once supported legalization, i do not now and i will never support it. >> well, i'm joined on the phone by republican presidential candidate donald trump. mr. trump,elcome backo "meet the prere," sir. >> good morning, chuck. >> good morning. let me start with last night's democratic debate. not surprisingly, the only republican candidate i think that was said, talked about by name, was you. i want to play one particular quote that hillary clinton said last night and get you to respond to it the. here it is. >> he is becoming isis' best recruiter. they are goioi to people, owing videos of donald trump insulting islam and mdslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. >> now, i know what you're about to say, no fact checker has been
>> that's exactly correct. i was going to say that. exactly correct. nobodydyas been able to back that up it's nonsense. just another hillary lie. she lies like crazy about everything. whether it's trips where she was being gunned down in a helicopter or an airplane, she's a liar and everybody knows that. but she just made this up in thin air. >> but let me ask you this. if you knew your words were being used inin recruitmentt videos -- because i've had intelligce officials worry about this, you're right, there's no evidence yet. if you knew your words were being used, would you change your language? >> no, because i think my words represent toughness and strength. hillary's not strength. hillary's weak, frankly, she's got no stamina, she's got nothing. >> let me stop you there. >> she couldn't even get back on the stage. nobody even knows what happened to her. it't' like she went home and went to sleep. >> why do you keep going on this?
stage last night i'll tell you why. because we need a president with great strength and stamina and hillary doesn't have that. we can not have another bad president like we have right now. we need a president with tremendous intelligence, smarts, cunning, strength, and stamimia. >> ere's a lot of things s ve heard about hillary clinton, the idea, though, she did travel more than any sectary of state, it's a gruelling job, this is somebody that has been on the national stage -- >> she's sitting on an airplane, truck. >> so are you. >> chuck, she may have traveled a lot but she didn't do the job because the entire world blew up around her. so she wasted a lot of time and energy and money and frankly she wasted a lot of lives becauu her policies were disaster for the world. the middle east has blown up around her. her decisions were horrible. and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed because of her faulty decisions. >> i've heard you say that. hundreds of thousands of people. >> where?
>> how about libya? how about all the bad decision. how about where's going won the migration which was caused by her faulty decisions along with her president, her leader, our great president who is grossly how about now? you look at our president, how about the iran deal, one of the worst deals i've ever seen negotiated in my life, chuck. i mean, it's just bad deal, bad decision after bad deal after bad decision. >> why are you so comfortable praising vladimir putin? >>i'm not. i didn't praise him. he praised me. he called me brilliant. he said very nice things about me. i accept it. >> well, you called him a strong leader. >> he is a strong leader, what am i going to say he's a weak leader? he's making mincemeat out of our president. he is a strong leader. you would like me to call him a weak leader, he's strong leader. i'm not going to be politically correct. hehe gotten a 80% approval rating done by pollsters from this country.
he's very popular within russia. that my change. but i didn't say anything one way or the other. he came out with a very nice statement about me and i said that's very nice, i'm honored by it and it would be very nice if we got along with russia, chuck, it's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. he e an not stand our presesent. he desn't like president obama. i think it would be a positive thing if russia and the united states actually got along and they could work to the mutual good of getting rid of isis and clean things up. right now we don't get along with him at all. >> but right now vladimir putin is the best ally iran has around the world and the best ally that assad has in syria. >> no. no. by makinghe horrible dede, one of the worst deals i've ever seen made in my entire life, giving them $150 billion, 24-day check periods which don't start for a long time after that, 24-day check periods,
our prisoners back, our four prisoners, we don't'tet them back, we gaa them $150 billion. we happen to be in its own sick and horrible way we happen to have been one of the great allies of iran, if you want to know the truth. and by the way, just to add to that, we also handed them iraq on a silver platter. we gave them iraq with the second-largest oil reserves in the world. they're taking over iraq as you speak to me this morning so we gave them one of the bestst deals ever made and, by the way, they're taking that money now and they're giving it to russia and others where they're buying argument which is nobody ever reports. >> do you stick by the idea that the middle east would be more stable today with saddam hussein and qaddafi in power? >> 100%. 100%. there's not even -- is there even a doubt in your mind? and you would haven't the migration and you wouldn't have people coming over to this country that we have no idea who they are and if i win they're going to have to go back because we have no idea who they are. >> and if you become president,
do you let assad stay? >> well, you can't fight assad and isis at the same time. you have to fight isis first. and i don't say assad is good -- >> that's exactly what bernie sanders believes. >> well, that's okay. then i agree with him. it's okay to agree. i don't agree with him on much but if he says that, i'm okay with it. let me tell you, you can't fight tm both at the same time. i say assad is a bad guy. but we don't know the rebels who are fighting. every time we get involved with rebel, look at libya, look at these rebels, look what they did to our ambassador and those young men, those wonderful young men. every time we get involved in benghazi, i'm talking about, every time we get involved with rebels, the rebels, they call them the freedom rebels, always nice names, it ends up being far worse than the people there in the first place. so assad is not a good guy. but the people we're backing, a lot of people think we're actually backing isis. so what are we doing? we have to get rid of isis
>> let me ask you to respond to your friend jeb bush and what he had to say about you sterday. take a listenen to thth full quote and i'll get you on the other side. >> just one other thing. i have to get this off my chest. donald trump is a jerk. [ laughter and applause ] i feel better now. i just -- i just -- i gave myself therapy there. thank you for allowing me to do it. >> well, this has escalated between you and mr. bush. >> look, his people gave him that quote, you could see he was just saying ay,'m ready to say it. jeb is a weak and ineffective person. he's also a low-energy person which i've said before but he's a weak and ineffective person. jeb if he were president it would be more of the same. he's got money from all of the lobbyists and all of the special interests that run him like a puppet. he's got 2% in the polls. i haha 41% in the latest poll. he has 2%.
he's an embarrassment to the bush family and he doesn't even want to use the bush name which is interesting. he's an embarrassment to himself and his family and the republican party has essentially -- they're not even listening to jeb. jeb is saying that -- by the way, he's only saying that to get mojo going but in the meantime i went up 11 points in the new fox poll. i went up 11 points after the debate and he went down two. >> very quickly, why has ted cruz caught you in iowa? we can dispute whether you're ahead by a point pour two, whether he's ahead five or six, but ted cruz has caught you in iowa and he may beat you in iowa. >> i just got back from iowa last night. i was there for a long time yesterday, we had a tremendous rally and frankly i think we're doing great in iowa. i don't know. i can't tell you who caught who. it looks like a two-person race, everyone else is way behind but i'm doing well with evangelicals who i love.
with the tea party groups, everybody, i can only speak for myself. we have a good team in iowa and i'll find out, let's see what happens on february 1. ted is doing well there and i'm doing well there and if you look at the numbers in new hampshirir i'm through the roof there and in south carolina i'm through the roof there. i'm way ahead in those two states. and ted and i are even, although the last three polls have me up in iowa, as you know. >> is it fair to say if you're not the nominee you'd prefer ted cruz? >> no, i don't want to say anything about that. but ted has been very nice to me, very respectful. very will be almost in every single instanceee backs my ideas probably more so and ben carson has been very nice, also. i get along with -- believe it or not i get along with a lot of people on that stage but ted has been very nice to me, yes. >> i think everybody right now except mr. bush. donald trump, i have to leave it there, have a merry christmas, happy new year. >> you, too.